New Alfa Romeo Spider gone on sale in UK
The new Alfa Spider, the latest open-topped Alfa Romeo in the company’s outstanding legacy of iconic convertibles, has just gone on sale in the UK.
Derived from Giorgetto Giugiaro’s multiple award-winning Alfa Brera design, the new Alfa Spider was developed by Pininfarina in collaboration with Alfa Romeo Centro Stile. Winner of the Cabrio of the Year award at the 2006 Geneva Motorshow, the new Alfa Spider combines superlative engineering with outstanding performance and handling characteristics appropriate to the pedigree of one of the world’s most famous sporting marques.
Four versions of the new Alfa Spider, priced from £25,995 on-the-road, are available from launch, with a choice of two petrol powerplants: a 2.2 litre 185 bhp 4-cylinder unit, and a 3.2 litre 260 bhp V6; together with Alfa Romeo’s widely acclaimed 2.4 litre 20v 200 bhp MultiJet (JTDM) turbodiesel.
The 2.2 JTS powerplant is mated to an M32.6 6-speed manual gearbox, whilst 3.2 JTS and 2.4 JTDM engines are equipped with the F40 6-speed manual transmission. Completing the launch range, the 3.2 JTS V6 unit may be ordered with Alfa Romeo’s QTRONIC 6-speed automatic transmission, featuring a manual sequential-shift override facility, and optional gearshift ‘paddles’.
With specific power outputs of over 80 bhp/litre, and almost 90% of maximum torque available at just 2000 rpm, both the advanced JTS (Jet Thrust Stoichiometric) petrol units feature direct injection and continuously variable valve timing governing both inlet and exhaust camshafts. They offer outstanding performance, yet provide significant fuel savings and readily comply with stringent Euro Stage 4 exhaust emission limits.
Continuing the company’s on-going pre-eminence in the field of diesel engines, the latest example of Alfa Romeo’s renowned JTD MultiJet (JTDM) common rail direct injection diesel engine technology joins the UK range. This version’s 2.4 litre 20-valve 200 bhp 5-cylinder powerplant, features variable geometry turbocharging and incorporates a ‘for life’, maintenance-free particulate trap (DPF) in anticipation of Euro 5 emissions regulations.
The 3.2 JTS Alfa Spider is equipped, as standard, with Alfa Romeo’s Q4 permanent four-wheel drive system. Q4 employs three differentials, with a self-locking Torsen C unit at the centre of the system which divides drive torque by a ratio of 57% to the rear wheels and 43% to the front. Torque split between front and rear axles is constantly modulated by the central Torsen differential on the basis of available grip, with a bias towards the rear axle promoting handling characteristics appropriate to a sporting Alfa Romeo.
Sharing platform and components with the Alfa Brera, on an identical 2528 mm wheelbase, the suspension of the new Alfa Spider combines a proven high double wishbone system at the front, with a sophisticated multilink rear configuration. The combination promotes smooth, accurate steering response, exceptional stability and controllability – even when close to adhesion limits – and first class body control allied to remarkable comfort over all road surface conditions.
The 2.2 JTS Alfa Spider’s braking system comprises powerful, 305 mm ventilated front discs and 278 mm solid discs at the rear. Versions powered by the 3.2 JTS petrol and 2.4 JTDM turbodiesel engines feature larger, 330 mm ventilated discs and Brembo four piston monobloc aluminium callipers at the front, with 292 mm ventilated discs at the rear.
The Alfa Spider offers direct, lively and responsive speed-sensitive power assisted steering, with a rack requiring just 2.25 turns lock-to-lock; the most direct steering in its class. The turning circle is just 10.7 m between kerbs.
Both passive and active safety features are comprehensively represented in the new Alfa Spider. In addition to up to six airbags, five of which are fitted as standard, seatbelt pre-tensioners and a fully integrated Fire Prevention System, the new car comes with a comprehensive range of state-of-the-art electronic braking, traction control and stability systems fitted as standard. ABS anti-lock braking is combined with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution over all four wheels, and a sophisticated, switchable Vehicle Dynamic Control unit enhances cornering stability. VDC is further augmented by ASR to limit wheelspin during acceleration, MSR to modulate braking torque when changing down through the gears, and a unique Hill Holder function to facilitate smooth hill starts.
The Alfa Spider is fitted with a fully automatic, double-layer fabric roof which may be retracted via a single dashboard mounted control switch in less than 25 seconds. A separate dedicated roof storage compartment ensures that the Alfa Spider’s generous stowage capacity is not compromised. The luggage compartment offers a 200 litre capacity – 36% more than the previous Alfa Spider – even with the roof folded away. The storage compartment is concealed beneath a flush-fitting body panel incorporating aerodynamic blisters which adopt the profile of individual, driver and passenger roll-over bars. A transparent wind break installed between the roll-over bars significantly reduces air turbulence within the passenger compartment during high speed driving.
As with all Alfa Romeo models, driver orientated ergonomics, superior passenger comfort and lavish standard equipment levels are fundamental to the interior design of the new convertible. The Alfa Spider offers one, extremely generous standard equipment specification across the model range, including many features only available as expensive options on rival models, including automatic Dual Zone climate control, cruise control, ‘Follow-Me-Home’ headlights, rear parking sensors, a multi-function display and trip computer, fog lights, 17” spoked alloy wheels and an RDS 6-speaker stereo radio with CD player. A leather interior is standard on 3.2 V6 versions.
Optional equipment includes xenon headlights, satellite navigation, electrically adjustable front seats, a Bose® sound system, Blue&Me™ hands-free mobile phone connectivity and 18” alloy wheels.
Sales of ‘H’ segment vehicles – sports cars – have more than doubled in Europe over the last 10 years to almost 400,000 units, of which half have been soft-topped models. Unusually, the more northerly the market, the higher the demand amongst European women for convertibles, and, in Britain, almost 50% of convertible buyers are women.